Asheville, NC – This summer, Asheville’s long-standing Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands returns to the heart of downtown at the U.S. Cellular Center. Opening Friday, July 20 at 10am, the public will have the opportunity to shop and connect with regional makers who have mastered their craft. The three-day fine craft event lasts until Sunday, July 22 at 5pm. Cultivating the traditions and legacies of handmade skills, this Fair features juried members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.
More than 150 booths will line both the concourse and arena level of the U.S. Cellular Center throughout the event. Both contemporary and traditional work in clay, wood, metal, glass, fiber, natural materials, paper, leather, mixed media, and jewelry will be featured. Members of the Guild undergo a two-step jury process in which their work is evaluated by peers in the industry. Upholding the standards of fine craft through this process is one of the Guild’s legacies of curating this industry.
This year’s featured maker is woodworker Steve Noggle of Morganton, NC. His one-of-a-kind wood-turned bowls embrace simplicity in form and function, as well as decorative design. Noggle was juried into the Southern Highland Craft Guild in 2004. After receiving a degree in forestry, he landed in the Pacific Northwest as a timber cruiser. Shortly after, he discovered the art of crafting fine furniture. While engineering new designs, Steve began to turn wood on a lathe. Today each of his pieces is spun from a chunk of wet, green wood into a bowl or vessel with a satin finish.
Demonstrating their processes at the Fairs will be the following makers: Carla and Greg Filippelli weaving colorful, large-scale basketry; potter Bill Lee throwing vessels and other forms on the wheel; as well as recent member Cindi Lemkau showing embroidery and applique on heirloom boxes. In addition to these main demonstrations will be exhibiting members showing parts of their individual processes: Lorraine Cathey in needle felting, Joan Berner in weaving and felting, Judy Brater in hand-building pottery, and Charlie Patricolo with her cloth dolls.
Educating the public on the physical elements required to create certain craft is a core value of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. To continue to pass on these traditions, members of the Guild participate and offer these educational opportunities to inspire the next generation of craft artists.
Each day also provides live entertainment from mountain musicians who continue the traditions of the Craft Fairs since their first days on grassy lawns. Old time musicians to bluegrass bands will perform live on the arena stage daily.
The U.S. Cellular Center was a shift in landscape for this event as it was incepted under canvas tents in 1948 on the grassy lawns of Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN. Downtown Asheville provides a robust experience for visitors, as the time honored gathering is representative of the creativity that flows in Western North Carolina. As a venue to provide a regional marketplace for mountain craftspeople, the Guild Fairs have since evolved into a popular celebration of craft in the country.
The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands is made possible by the following sponsors: Asheville Citizen-Times, Our State Magazine, Smoky Mountain Living, and WNC Magazine.
The location is U.S. Cellular Center, 87 Haywood Street, Downtown Asheville, NC. The dates and hours: July 20-22, from Friday-Saturday, 10am-6pm and Sunday, 10am-5pm. Admission is General $8, Weekend Pass $12, Students $5, Children under 12 free.
Cultivating the crafts and makers of the Southern Highlands for the purpose of shared resources, education, marketing, and conservation.
The Southern Highland Craft Guild, chartered in 1930, is today one of the strongest craft organizations in the country. The Guild currently represents nearly 800 makers in 293 counties of 9 southeastern states. During the Depression the Guild cultivated commerce for craftspeople in the Appalachian region. This legacy continues today as the Guild plays a large role in the Southern Highlands craft economy through the operation of four craft shops and two annual craft expositions. Educational programming is a fundamental element of the organization, fulfilled through integrated educational craft demonstrations at retail outlets and expos, free educational community events, and an extensive public library located at its headquarters at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Photo: Steve Noggle, Morganton, NC